Hong not pleased with team’s performance

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Hong not pleased with team’s performance


Hong Myung-bo

The Korean Olympic football team has advanced to the final round of the London Olympic Asia qualifiers after a 1-1 draw against Jordan in the second leg on Thursday in Amman.

Korea’s 4-2 aggregate win was good enough to propel the squad to the next stage of qualifications, but head coach Hong Myung-bo said the team still needs to fix plenty of problems if the team expects to earn a pass to London next year. Hong suggested that he was not impressed with how his team performed.

“We played at a different level in the second leg compared to what we did in the first leg,” Hong told Ilgan Sports, the JoongAng Ilbo’s daily sports newspaper, upon arrival at Incheon International Airport on Saturday. “If we play how we did against Jordan on Thursday, we will not get through the final round.”

Korea, which seeks its seventh consecutive and ninth overall appearance in the Olympics, stumbled in the second leg by allowing the opening goal to Jordan’s Hamza Ali Khaled Aldaradreh just before the end of the first half. It was the third straight time the young Taegeuk Warriors allowed the opponents to score first.

The Korea U-23 team managed to get the equalizer in the 70th minute, thanks to second-half substitute Hong Chul’s strike with his right foot. But the team’s overall performance was not to head coach Hong’s liking. He said there needs to be improvement in the next round, but did add that he is relieved the team made it through.

One good thing Hong said he took away from the second-leg match was that Korea has identified its problems - defensive lapses and surrendering the opening goal - and will be able to plan to prepare for them in the next round. “I know we didn’t have enough time to train, but conceding the first goal should not happen in the final round,” Hong said.

Team captain and center back Hong Jeong-ho also agreed that the players should be more focused and review the defensive mistakes they made during the qualifiers.

“I will definitely work hard so there are no more defensive problems in the final round,” the Jeju United player told Ilgan Sports on Saturday. “We really need some more training.”

Coach Hong also said on Thursday, after Korea’s 1-1 draw, that some players were not responsible for their duties on the pitch and there could be major changes to the team as a result.

“When we finish our attacks, attackers need to have the mentality that they also need to be defenders, but some players weren’t great in that aspect,” Hong said.

Hong also said he needs to prepare for a possible situation in which some core players will not be able to play in the final round due to commitments elsewhere.

One such example is striker Ji Dong-won, who is expected to sign with English Premier League club Sunderland AFC this week.

Ji, 20, did not travel with the squad to Korea, having left for England after the match on Thursday.

Hong said that Ji’s preoccupation with the transfer likely contributed to the fact that he did not put on his best performance. “But I thank him for playing with us and will try to fill the void,” Hong said.

The final round of the Olympic Asia qualifiers is scheduled to start in September after a group draw is held at Asian Football Confederation headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 7. Korea is one of 12 teams that will be drawn into three groups of four and will be a No. 1 seed along with Australia and Japan.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [일간스포츠]

홍명보 감독 “2차전 경기력이면 본선행 어렵다”

"요르단과의 2차전 같은 경기력으로는 올림픽 본선행을 기대하기 어렵다. 축구협회와의 심도 깊은 논의가 필요하다."

홍명보(42) 올림픽대표팀 감독이 2012올림픽 3차예선을 앞두고 팀 개편 필요성을 거듭 강조했다.

홍 감독은 25일 오후 인천국제공항 입국장에서 열린 입국 기자회견에서 "요르단과의 두 차례 맞대결에서 나타난 우리 팀의 경기력은 1차전과 2차전이 전혀 달랐다"며 "최종예선에서도 2차전과 비슷한 경기력을 보인다면 본선행을 기대하기 어렵다"고 말했다.

한국은 19일 서울월드컵경기장에서 열린 1차전에서는 3-1로 시원스런 완승을 거뒀지만, 23일 치른 원정 2차전에서는 졸전 끝에 1-1 무승부를 기록해 우려를 낳았다. 이와 관련해 홍 감독은 2차전 종료 후 한국 취재진과의 인터뷰에서 "대대적인 팀 개편을 통해 선수단을 정비하겠다"는 뜻을 밝혀 눈길을 모은 바 있다.

두 차례 맞대결에서 모두 선제 실점을 허용하며 불안하게 출발한 부분에 대해서는 "우리에게 충분한 시간이 주어지지 못했다. 한 번도 발을 맞춰보지 못한 채 경기를 나서게 돼 걱정했는데, 결국 현실로 나타났다"며 훈련 시간 부족을 아쉬워했다. 이어 "선제 실점은 최종예선에서는 없어야 한다"고 강조했다.

하지만 홍명보 감독은 2차 예선이 갖는 의미에 대해서는 긍정적인 시선을 유지했다. "쉽지 않은 상황에서 최종예선에 진출한 것은 의미가 있는 결과"라 설명한 그는 "최종예선을 앞두고 우리에게 어떤 것이 문제인지, 어기로 가야하는지 확인할 수 있었던 좋은 기회가 됐다"고 설명했다.

해외 이적이 확정된 '주포' 지동원(20·전남)에 대해 "1차전과 2차전 모두 팀에 많은 공헌을 하진 못했다"고 평가한 홍 감독은 "활약도가 미약했는데, 아무래도 경기를 전후해 이적 협상을 진행한 것이 원인이 된 것 같다"며 심리적인 부분에서 원인을 찾았다. "팀을 위해 끝까지 최선을 다 한 부분은 감사한다"며 제자를 다독인 홍 감독은 "지동원의 빈 자리에 대해서도 충분히 대비해야한다"고 덧붙였다.

이날 입국과 함께 모든 일정을 마친 올림픽축구대표팀 선수단은 당분간 소속팀에 전념할 예정이며, 9월21일 시작되는 최종예선을 앞두고 재소집한다.

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